Bile Duct Cancer

The bile ducts are part of a collection of organs and tubes that make and store bile to be released into the small intestine. The bile ducts are small tubes that transport digestive bile from the liver to the gallbladder and the small intestine.

Bile duct cancer, known as cholangiocarcinoma, is a rare type of cancer that forms in the bile ducts. When tumors impact the function of the bile ducts, it is essential to determine if the bile duct tumor is benign or malignant.

Types of Bile Duct Cancer

Risk Factors and Causes of Bile Duct Cancer

Several risk factors make it more likely for a patient to develop bile duct cancer. That said, these cancers are rare, so having risk factors does not necessarily lead to cancer itself. Common risk factors include

In each case above, the risk factors cause inflammation and infection of the bile duct, leading to higher cancer risk.

The Signs and Symptoms of Bile Duct Cancer

The following are common signs and symptoms of bile duct cancer; however other abdominal conditions and diseases share can share many of these symptoms. It is essential that you visit a qualified medical professional to evaluate symptoms and offer a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment of Bile Duct Cancer

Early treatment for bile duct cancer is critical to ensuring the most successful outcomes. As such, patients who are at risk for bile duct cancer should coordinate with their medical team regularly, as prescribed, to ensure appropriate screening.

Surgery is the primary way to address bile duct cancer. A surgeon relies on imaging and can perform a laparoscopic procedure to examine cancer’s spread closely. Several potential surgeries can be employed, depending on where the tumor is located and how it has spread.

Chemotherapy and radiation may follow the surgical procedure depending on your oncologist’s assessment. Some patients may require a liver transplant. If the tumor cannot be removed surgically, known as unresectable bile duct cancer, specific palliative procedures can be performed to improve quality of life while patients undergo other therapies.